As an accomplished pianist, Austin Frohmader, a senior at Blaine High School (BHS), has had many accomplishments in his career.
According to Crocus Hill Studios where Frohmader studies, last year, seemingly coming from nowhere, he won or placed second in virtually every competition and audition held in the region.
“Of special note, was Austin’s receiving first place in the Minnesota Orchestra’s Young Peoples Symphony Concert Association Concerto Competition (YPSCA),” states the studio’s website.
“As a result, he will be a guest artist with our world-renowned Minnesota Orchestra for six performances in February and March, and two more in June.”
As fate would have it, Val Gutzman, a music instructor at District 11’s Adams and Madison elementary schools, and others were successful in obtaining a grant for all fifth-grade students in the Anoka-Hennepin School District to attend the Young People’s concert.
About 3,000 Anoka-Hennepin students were scheduled to see Frohmader play, but because of the snow day Feb. 29, 900 students missed the opportunity.
Gutzman is hopeful students will be able to attend a performance in March.
Frohmader, the son of Alan and Laurie Ann Frohmader of Coon Rapids, was five years old when he began to play the piano, but said he wasn’t serious about it until he joined Crocus Hill Studios in St. Paul.
The studio’s website concurs.
“Austin has had one of the most explosive, intense, compact and astonishing journeys in our studio’s history,” states Crocus Hill Studio’s website.
“A fascinating and unique guy, Austin was largely self-taught in piano and completely self-taught as a burgeoning composer, when he entered our program for the gifted and talented.”
The contest Frohmader won to play with the Minnesota Orchestra took place last year.
For the contest, Frohmader played “Hungarian Fantasy,” a piece he was working on for other competitions.
It is the piece he played with the Minnesota Orchestra for the Young People’s concert.
He had one rehearsal with the Minnesota Orchestra before playing two performances a day for three days in February and March.
“They were really good; really responsive,” Frohmader said.
“I liked everything about the experience. The musicians were all great and Courtney Lewis, the conductor, was really efficient.”
As well as the young students from Anoka-Hennepin, many of Frohmader’s friends had an opportunity to see the concert.
While having his friends at the concert made him nervous, Frohmader said he’s glad they were there.
In addition to being a pianist, Frohmader is also a composer.
He said he started composing at a young age, but didn’t know what he was doing. Because he knew composing was something he wanted to do, he learned how.
As a composer, Frohmader was selected for one of the coveted slots in the Schubert Club’s Composer Mentorship Program.
According to Crocus Hill Studios, only four students from the upper midwest were chosen for the program.
In addition to his success outside of BHS, a member of the school’s concert orchestra, Frohmader has composed two pieces for his peers to play.
The first, “Down the Rabbit Hole,” was performed at the holiday concert in 2010; the second, “Coexist,” will be performed this spring.
“It was a super big learning experience to have others play my music and to play it myself,” Frohmader said.
“Not every school has the resources to do this. We have a full orchestra so I am able to write symphonic pieces.”
Frohmader plans to major in music composition in college. Still waiting for news about scholarships, he has not yet decided where he’s going to school.
Ed Schaefle, a music instructor at BHS, said it has been wonderful to work with Frohmader.
When the orchestra premiered “Down the Rabbit Hole” last year, Frohmader had detailed and thoughtful observations of the rehearsals, he said.
“The piece we will play this spring, ‘Coexist,’ shows a year’s growth in his technique and imagination as a composer,” Schaefle said.
“He has also benefited from his participation in the Schubert Club’s Young Composers Mentorship Program.
“All of the BHS orchestra and other music students had the opportunity to hear him perform with the Minnesota Orchestra at Orchestra Hall, and it was inspiring for all.”
With Frohmader’s talent and work ethic, Schaefle said the young man will go far.
“As talented as Austin is, he is also modest about his accomplishments,” Schaefle said.
“He takes nothing for granted and works as hard as he can to bring his musical imagination to life, whether he is composing or playing piano.”
The orchestra’s spring concert is Thursday, May 17 at 7 p.m. in the BHS auditorium. The event is open to the public.